Under the almost-floating roof of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, the last major project of architect Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe, Saint Laurent debuted their Spring/Summer 2024 menswear collection: Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves. The locale proved to be a fitting match. Heralded as a Modernist masterpiece, the museum’s large windows open the pavilion to natural light, blurring the line between inside and outside while maximizing engagement between art and viewer. Like Mies, whose revolutionary design retained a clear respect for classical architecture, Anthony Vaccarello’s latest show is a boundary-pushing tribute to the themes that built Saint Laurent.
From the show’s open — which takes place outside of the official calendar — creative director Andrew Vaccarello doesn’t hold back. At the Fall/Winter 2023-2024 show, Vaccarello admitted that he hadn’t looked at the Saint Laurent archive in two years. Instead, the famed designer fancies his designs as an evocation of past Yves Saint Laurent eras, without reference to a specific piece or collection. In other words, Saint Laurent under Vaccarello is no nostalgia act. The brand’s continued dedication to its trademarks — sharp hems and androgynous suiting — honours the French designer’s legacy, while the collection’s grasp of contemporary trends shows that Vaccarello isn’t lost in the rearview.
In menswear, Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2024 is quick to raise eyebrows — starting with its title. In this case, however, “killing” is more tame than you might’ve guessed. Vaccarello doesn’t throw tradition to the wind. Instead, he rethinks Saint Laurent’s classic looks in a modern context, evoking the label’s storied, boundary-pushing past without sailing into nostalgic waters. The result is a collection of sleek, bespoke designs whose heritage encourages them to look towards the future.
Plunging necklines are ubiquitous in the Spring/Summer runway show. Delicate satin shirts share the sophistication of classic suit companions, but unlike a white button-down, they aren’t afraid to subvert tradition. Rather, the looks embrace decidedly daring, provocative, and occasionally feminine cuts. In this respect, Vaccarello’s dedication to the brand is unmistakable — his disregard for gendered fashion boundaries mirrors Yves’ own controversial collections in the late 60s.
Shoulders are surely the collection’s most prominent feature. Large shoulder pads loom atop oversized suit jackets, emphasizing the wearer’s breadth to create a large V-shaped silhouette. The exaggerated effect speaks to Vaccarello’s artistic vision of the collection as “a free interplay between elements considered masculine and feminine.” Broad shoulders playfully reference traditional masculine tailoring as they taper down to form a dramatic reversed triangle. Meanwhile, high-waisted flute pants meet jackets at the waist. The cinched outline of the former contrasts the latter’s hyper-masculine cut, celebrating versatility in modern menswear.
For all the boldness of Spring/Summer 2024’s statement, Saint Laurent’s fabrics are constructed with a light, intricate touch that echos Yves himself. The line drips with couture’s elegant influence; in menswear, however, high-fashion fabrics like mousseline are free from their usual connotations.
Vaccarello’s designs take advantage of this freedom. He pairs white satin tank tops with formal jackets — the deep-cut, skin-grazing fit of the shirt highlights the jacket’s exuberant structure. Other looks leave the shoulders bare, completed instead by draping tops. The collection reimagines well-trodden print paths: sheer, re-proportioned polka dots are descended from the translucent tops that caused scandals during brand’s early years.
Footwear weaved the most explicit thread between the brand’s past and present — Saint Laurent’s leather ankle-boots shined on the museum floor. A perennial favourite, the patent leather pair defined Saint Laurent during the second half of the twentieth century. The pointed toes embodied a sense of luxury that transcends time and season. Well-made wardrobe staples, it seems, are never a bad investment.
Designing Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2024, Vaccarello reminds us that despite the label’s ever-changing output, its core principles endure. As the fashion house’s namesake once put it, “Fashion dies, but style remains.”